The words from God to this nation were “keep going.”  But they were words that were built on a story.  They weren’t just said in a vacuum.  See, this nation of roughly 2,000 people found themselves in a valley, and they heard those words from God, but BEFORE that, they’d seen the hand of God.  It was God who’d led them out of 400 years of slavery into freedom, but he led them to this place where they were on this peninsula.  Water surrounding them on three sides.  Miraculously, the Red Sea parted and they walked through on dry ground.  But he didn’t stop there.  Every morning when they woke up, there was a little bit of bread they called manna that was lying on the ground, just enough to get them through the day, and the next day it was there again.  Sometimes, quail came in, so they got a little meat in their diet, but not regularly.  They had just enough.  They were in the wilderness and walking through the desert and they had no water and God told Moses to hit a rock with a stick, and the rock turned into a well and water just started flowing from it.  They’d seen unbelievable things:  their clothes didn’t wear out, their shoes stayed good, they saw God’s gracious hand of provision all along the way.  He said to them, “Keep going.  Keep going.  You’re out of slavery, you’re in the desert, but I’m leading you to the Promised Land.  Don’t stop here.”

They were sent to spy out this land.  A land that they found was flowing with milk and honey.  They brought back grapes for people to taste.  Evidently they were amazing grapes!  They said, “Yeah, there’s milk and honey.  It’s unbelievable!  It’s wonderful!”  God said, “Keep going.”  But they said, “There’s also giants in the land.”  I don’t think you understand, God, or maybe you do, but we’re sort of like grasshoppers and they’re sort of BIG and if you really wanted us to keep going, you should have made us a little bit stronger.  So they stopped.  A people created for the Promised Land found wandering in the desert for 40 years.  Because God wouldn’t force them to take that step.  He gave them every resource they needed; it was right in front of them and they said, “No, thank you.”  People created for the vast horizon, for the expansive landscape, for the milk and honey of the Promised Land, SETTLED for the desert.

I wonder how many of us here this morning have settled.  Have just gotten stuck.  I’ve talked to a lot of people and sometimes it’s the pain of our past and it just sinks an anchor down.  We’re like, God, this is not something I can get beyond.  Or maybe it’s the pride of standing on the top, and we go, God, me continue to move forward?  Is there still ground left to take?  Maybe some of us, it’s just this narrative we have in the back of our head, this insecurity that just plays, over and over and over again—if I take that step, if I make that effort, if I go that direction, I know the bottom’s going to fall out from underneath, so it’s just easier to build a camp, even if it’s in the desert, than it is to follow God into the Promised Land.   Can anybody relate to that?  I can.

In contrast to that mindset, we have the Olympics.  Has anybody stayed up way too late watching sports that they didn’t even remember existed unless it was four years ago?  Around the same time?  Now we’re all in on the luge.  I will not think about luge again until February 2022, I promise you, but right now, I will die for our team winning the luge, right?  We’re sleep deprived because we’re in on it, right?  I’m amazed at the stories they tell in between.  Stories of people like Lindsey Vonn, who destroys her knee, shatters her leg, breaks her arm, suffers with depression and divorce—she even dated Tiger Woods—and she’s there!  She pushes through.

What is it about some people that get stuck in the desert and other people push into the Promised Land?  What is it about our God that He believes about you and knows about you because He’s wired it into you?  He’s a forward-facing God and we are designed to be forward-moving people.  Growing.  Changing.  Maturing.  Walking with Him, but sometimes we lose sight of that.  This church that we’re going to read about today in Revelation 3 got stuck.  If you’ve ever gotten stuck, this letter’s for you.  If you’ve thought, “God, there’s something you’ve wired me for, but I’m in this place, I’ve settled down instead of being a pioneer,” this letter’s for you.

Remember, we’re studying the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, over these last few months, and we’ve been looking at different letters that Jesus writes, through the Apostle John, to the churches and to us.  Here’s what he says to the church in Sardis:  And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: “The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.”

As we’ve been doing every week, I just want to tell you a little bit about Sardis.  It’s important.  I think it’s actually most important that we understand the context of Sardis, because I think there’s more allusions to their culture in this letter than in any of the other letters.  It’s fascinating!  Just a little bit about Sardis:  1) The people in Sardis were called Sardines!  No they weren’t.  Sardis is just inland a number of miles from Smyrna.  It was at this crossroads of two different roads, so it was a vibrant trade city.  It was known for developing a way to make garments out of wool, so that was sort of the calling card, in a commercial way, of this city.  They were known as a clothes-producing city.

Maybe the most famous part about Sardis is that it had this 1,500 foot peak that was in the back of the city.  If Sardis were ever under attack, they would retreat and go up to the top of this mountain.  There was a fortress built on top of it with a temple inside of it.  It was thought to be impenetrable. . . . .until it wasn’t.  It was around 500 BC that Cyrus and the Persian army gathered around, they sat in that valley near Sardis.  They were looking for a way to attack Sardis and they couldn’t find any way.  Until one of the guards, who was on the watch, had a helmet that fell off of his head.  It went rolling down the side of the mountain.  This guy went and traversed down the mountain on a ‘hidden’ path that the Persians couldn’t see.  And they went, ah, duly noted.  So that’s how you get up to the top of that fortress.  Wonderful!  The next day, they came up to the top of the mountain and they attacked.  They found all of the guards sleeping.  Wiped the city out without even having a fight!  Two hundred years later, the exact same thing happened again.  The Syrians attacked and found all of the guards asleep.  This impenetrable fortress, because the guards fell asleep, was taken down not once, but two times.  It’s like the Titanic sinking.  This is the most powerful place they can be, and yet, their security lulled them to sleep.  File that away because it’s going to come back around.

Sardis was also the place they found gold for the first time.  Gold was coming out of this river that ran through the city.  It was a wealthy city.  They started to mint coins.  One of the coins that was floating around, at the time Jesus writes this letter, is a coin that was commissioned and designed by Domitian.   The coin had a picture of his son.  His son was surrounded by SEVEN stars.  It was to depict Domitian, his kids, and his family standing above, even the cosmos, in control of it all.  So when Jesus opens his letter to the church of Sardis, The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, he’s going, “There’s a new ruler in town.”  There’s a new invitation.  There’s somebody who doesn’t just want to be in charge and in control of the cosmos, but there’s somebody who IS.  And Sardis would have gone, we see what you’re doing here.

Listen to what Jesus says to them.  (Revelation 3:1b-2)  I know your works.  {Just a quick timeout.  In most of the other letters, Jesus is going to give a commendation like, you guys are nailing it.  You stuck the dismount, good work!  But not to Sardis.  No ‘good job, Sardis.’  He just says, I know your works.}  You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.    So, church at Sardis, you have this reputation—you started off good, you started off alive, you started off with my Spirit (because that’s what breathes life), you started off with communion with Me (because that’s what brings life to the follower of Jesus), you started off with this purpose for existing (because that’s what brings life), but somewhere along the way that life turned into ‘reputation management.’  Reputation management is exhausting.  They’re trying to put up a façade of ‘this is who we are,’ when deep down inside they know it’s not true.  They’ve been hollowed out, and we don’t know why and we don’t know how.  We just know that they’re not the church they once were.

Here’s what Jesus says to them:  Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.  I’ve been calling you to move forward.  I’ve been calling you to advance.  I’ve been calling you to grow.  I’ve been calling you to change.  I’ve been calling you to develop, but you’ve just set up camp and you’re staying there.  This word ‘unfinished’ (incomplete) is the Greek word pléroó.  It means “to fill to the brim, to fill to capacity.”  Jesus says, “That’s what I’ve designed you for.”  That’s what I long for you to step into—individually as a church and corporately, but you’ve resisted.  If you were in Sardis, you could have seen a picture of what Jesus is calling them to, every single day.   They had this temple to the goddess Artemis. It wasn’t as famous as the temple in Ephesus, that was the preeminent one.  This one was secondary, but it had a distinguishing figure about it.  The temple of Artemis in Sardis was only partially done.  It had been half-finished for one hundred years.  They meant to go back and continue to carve the inlays into the pillars, but they never got to it.  Some of them were finished, some of them weren’t.  Anybody have a project around the house that you’ve got most of it done, but didn’t quite finish it?  That’s the picture.  Anybody have a book that they’ve read half of?  We can relate to this picture that Jesus is painting.

He’s saying this subtly, but to the church he’s saying, “I’ve designed you, I’ve wired it into you that you would be different people than you were last year.”  It’s why every year, around the first of the year, we make these New Year resolutions, we sign up for gym, and it’s why this point in February most of them are back to normal.  Because we want to grow, but sometimes we set up camp in the desert instead of moving to the Promised Land.  Jesus is passionate, not about his church being perfect, but about his church being persistent.  He’s passionate about you—not picturing your life like there’s some destination or arrival point that you need to get to and then you could go, “Alright, nailed it,” but that your entire life would be a journey, that you would be moving towards growth, that you would be moving towards life, that you’d be moving towards vitality and wholeness and goodness.  That’s his invitation to us.  But, so much of the time we settle.

I read this study that came out a number of years ago.  The book was written in 2007 by a Stanford-trained psychologist, named Dr. Carolyn Dweck.  She wrote about two different perspectives that you and I can have about life.  One perspective is called a ‘fixed mindset.’  It means that you are what you are.  You have the intellect that you have.  You’re only going to get up to a certain point or grow up to a certain point, and most of us, if we have that mindset, believe we’re already there.  On the other hand, she said that it’s possible to have a ‘growth mindset.’  That we can continue to grow, continue to develop, continue to become the people who God says we are.  Listen to what she said in summary of her research:  “For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.  It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”

Let me throw a few things out there.  When you encounter resistance, what’s your initial response to it?  Do you keep going, or do you go, well, that’s not for me?  When you get feedback from somebody, do you receive it as a gift, or do you defend your ground and say that’s not true of me?  I’m convinced, that as a parent, one of our main jobs is to teach our kids to have a growth mindset.  Everything around them is pushing them towards a fixed mindset.  For example:  They lose a basketball game and whose fault is it?  The ref’s.  He comes off the floor saying, “Those refs were terrible.”  The refs were terrible in both directions.  The refs did not lose the game, right?  We need to press on our kids to develop what we call ‘grit’ because we are in a ‘make it comfortable for them’ society.  So we need to challenge them.  Because challenge does something in our brain.  It rewires things to give us a vision of the way things might be.  Did you know that God wants you to grow?  He designed you with the capacity for it, with the Spirit in you He’s moving you forward.

I love modern psychology, I really do.  I think there’s some fascinating things that are coming, some breakthroughs that are happening. I love it even more when modern psychology reinforces what the Scriptures have been saying for years.  The author of Hebrews writes this (5:12) — For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.  You need milk, not solid food.  Why does he say that to them?  Because he knows that everything in them wants to move forward, everything in them wants to grow, and they’ve sunk anchor in the same spot.  He’s going, I’ve got more for you guys.  Some of you maybe need to jump out and lead a small group.  You’ve been in one for years, maybe it’s time to lead one.  Some of you have been mentored by some great people, and now it’s time to turn the other direction and see who’s coming alongside of you that you may be able to be a mentor to.  Because God’s designed us to grow, and a growth mindset is not optional to following the way of Jesus.  It’s not.  A growth mindsetis essential to a life of discipleship.  When it’s easier to quit, as followers of Jesus, we have to choose to develop grit.

Jesus says, “You’ve stopped.”  You’ve started to manage your reputation instead of taking ground. You’ve turned into a fortress, Church, when I’ve designed you to be a movement.  He’s like, come on, you guys.  {Will you look up at me for just a second?}  Our church is unfinished.  It’s unfinished and it always will be.  Until Jesus comes back.  We will continue to pray, “Your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  We will continue to raise our hand to say, “God, we want to be a part of that mission.”  The church that stops moving forward, first stops expecting that God will move.  Let me say that again.  The church that stops moving forward, first stops expecting that God will move.  I love the way that Martin Luther King, Jr. put it:  “The belief that God will do everything for man is as untenable as the belief that man can do everything for himself.  It, too, is based on a lack of faith.  We must learn that to trust God with the expectation that he will do everything while we do nothing, is not faith, but superstition.”

Boredom in the church should be an oxymoron.  God is moving us forward.  We’re still praying, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Listen.  You can be a part of a church that doesn’t change.  You can.  But you cannot be part of a church that does not change and is alive.  Because living things change, living things grow.  If you want to be a part of a church that doesn’t change, you have to be part of a dead church.  And then you’d better be careful that you don’t bring the Spirit of God there because He’s going to stir things up and do something different.  So we’re a church that is and will be changing.  We’re hosting this ‘People Welcoming People’ workshop next Saturday, because there’s a thousand people moving to Denver every month.  You know it and I know it—the freeways are more crowded than they’ve ever been.  We can lament that or we can see God, there’s an opportunity here.  What would you have us do?  How would you have us respond.  We want to spread our arms open wide and say the gospel’s too good that we would stand in the way of anybody coming to know him.  Join us.  We have a refugee workshop coming up.  We did a class that trained on the refugee crisis in America, as it is now.  This next workshop—you can find information on it in your service guide—is designed to say how do we put boots on the ground, because we believe that God is bringing people to our door that we need to spread our arms wide open to in love, in the name of Jesus.  That people need to know how to do real simple things like go to the store, or pay their bills, or interact, or go to the DMV, or all those nightmarish things we do and just know how to do, they don’t.  God’s moving us in this.  There are 80 to 100 people every single Sunday morning who link hearts and arms and serve our kids, and our welcome area, and our students, and prepare coffee and donuts, and unlock doors, and do all sorts of things.  Because they believe God is moving this church forward.  To reach more people with the good news of Jesus.  There’s a group of people that gather every single Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. to pray, because they believe God is on the move.  He’s not done with us, you guys.  If you love this church the way it is, I praise God for it, but we’re moving forward into what God would have us move forward into.

{Look up at me for a moment.}  We’re not done as a church and you are not done as an individual.  You are a person in process.  {Would you look at the person next to you and say, “You’re a person in process.”}  It’s true of all of us.  We need to be people who have a growth mindset.  God, we’re not done, and you’re not done with us.  We are not done, because God is not done with us.  I don’t care how old you are, how long you’ve been following Jesus, God’s not done with you.  I just saw Edith, 96 years old, and she’s leading a Bible study in her assisted living home!  That’s awesome!  Because she’s not done.  I think so many times we let pride and insecurity get in the way of growth.  Maybe there’s things you’ve believed that are shaping who you are becoming.  There’s things in your mind that make you think you’ll always be that way.  Or it’s just who I am.  Or it’s their fault, or his fault, or her fault, it’s not my fault.  I’m convinced that the life we long to live is on the other side of the obstacle that stares us in the face.  So the question we have to wrestle with is will we continue to follow the God who says move forward with me, or will we say here’s good, we’re content with just staying in the desert?

The question becomes—and Jesus wrestles with this—how do we become the kind of people who follow him into the life he has for us?  Remember, he’s not calling us to perfection, he’s calling us to persistence.  He’s not calling us to some destination out there, he’s calling us to walk the journey with him.  It’s life long and it never ends.  He unpacks for us what it looks like to walk with him.  Here’s the way it continues (Rev. 3:2) —- Wake up  Okay, stop there.  Is the church really, literally asleep?  No.  He’s pointing back to what they’ve walked through in their history.  He’s using it as a metaphor to paint a picture that there’s things happening all around you, he says, and you’re just not aware of them.  You’re not willing to open your eyes to go with me, to walk with me.  Two times in Sardis’s history they’ve been attacked because they were literally asleep, but he says to the church, you’re figuratively sleeping through this life that God’s called you to live.  You’ve sunk an anchor down where God’s called you to be a movement…..WAKE. UP.

In 2016, there was a shepherd in a little village in Spain.  He was on his shift and around 4:30 in the morning, he fell asleep.  Unfortunately for him, he was watching 1300 sheep, that eventually got out.  He got a phone call at 7 a.m. from the police officer in this little town in Spain.  Hey, buddy, are you missing anything?   That’s 1300 sheep loose!  That’s crazy!  And he had no idea!  The picture Jesus is painting for his church is: You have no idea what’s going on around you, because you are so either consumed with self, or you’re consumed with pain, or you’re consumed with pride, that you’re missing what I’m doing.

Not coincidentally, the church in Sardis is one of the least persecuted churches in this area, in this time.  You cannot find anything in this letter that even alludes to the church being persecuted.  Did they fall asleep?  Were things just so easy for them that they just started to put it in cruise control?  I think this letter to this church is maybe the most applicable letter to the church in America today.  It’s easy for us, you guys.  Paul will write to the church at Rome:  Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. (Rom. 13:11)

The great news is that if you want to be alive. . . .you can be!  It takes intentionality, but Jesus wouldn’t command it, Paul wouldn’t command it, if it weren’t possible.  So how do we do it?  Waking means that we honestly acknowledge reality.  We step back from our lives long enough to say, “There’s some things here that I’d change.”  Maybe it’s saying out loud, for the first time, I’ve got a drinking problem and I need to address it.  Maybe it’s saying for the first time:  This isn’t somebody else’s fault.  This is my issue and I have an anger that’s just in the depths of my soul that I can’t seem to let go of.  It springs out in areas that I never know when, but I know it’s there.  Maybe it’s actually saying:  This marriage feels cold.  We need to move forward.  Maybe it’s, for the first time, being honest enough with God to say, God, I’m really upset, I’m mad at you that things didn’t happen the way that I thought they would.  I thought we had a deal and you weren’t good on it.

People who honestly acknowledge reality, sometimes it’s helpful (because a lot of these are blind spots) to ask others to speak into our lives, to tell us what they see that maybe we missed.  Maybe we take that step and go see a counselor to have someone help us unpack what’s going on in the depths of our soul.  Or maybe we decide that we’re going to start going to Celebrate Recovery on Tuesdays, to say, I’ve gotta honestly acknowledge that things aren’t the way that I long for them to be and God designed them to be, and I’m going to do something about it.  See, Nehemiah never rebuilds the wall around Jerusalem if he doesn’t first acknowledge that it’s laying in rubble.  For us to move forward, we have to acknowledge and accept what is and ask that God would move us forward.

Here’s what Jesus says second:  Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die.  He’s going, Church, there’s something going on here.  There’s something that’s still alive.  It’s like a little wick that’s barely flickering, but it’s there.  It’s there!  This is a really practical command, because Jesus pushes back against our nature.  Our nature is when things are going bad to just the notice the bad.  When things are going bad, we notice more and more bad.  When things are bad at work, everything that coworker says ticks us off.  When things are going bad with your kids, they can do no right.  Jesus says no, no, no, no, no.  Come on, if we want to be people who have a growth mindset and discipleship rests on that, we’ve got to be people who see these things that are barely alive. . . .and we cultivate them and we breathe life into them.

When I was first reading this this week, I thought, “Oh yeah, I remember that.”  It’s a scene from “The Princess Bride.”  They carry Wesley into this room and he’s on this primitive form of life support.  The doctor (Billy Crystal) looks at them and says, “Your friend here is only mostly dead, but mostly dead is still slightly alive.”  Jesus is saying the same thing to the church.  He follows it up with is intentionally feed life. Those things that are just barely hanging on. . . .instead of looking for all the things that are going wrong, and for all the things you wish you would have done, and the pain that you’re carrying, he’s going okay, okay, that’s all a reality, but something’s still burning, something’s still alive.  That kid that can’t do anything right, probably did something right this week.  Maybe!  You can find it.  What Jesus says is whooooo, fan that flame.  In your own heart, in your own soul, there’s things God is doing.  You may be in a dry season of life, but there’s things that God’s doing.  Be a detective, find them and then fan that flame.  What if we learned to be the kind of people who, when marriages were difficult, or friendships were difficult, or relationships were difficult, we intentionally fed life?  It would change things, you guys.  Vitality requires intentionality.  I think this is why David says in 1 Samuel 30:6 — I encouraged myself in the Lord.  I fanned that flame that was barely hanging on in my heart.  Some of you are here today—-and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say—-you’re not yet followers of Jesus, but you just sense that this God who’s moving you forward is drawing you in.  Don’t leave without responding to that little flicker.  Respond.  Be attentive and respond to what he’s doing.

Here’s how Jesus ends this section.  First, it’s wake up, become more aware, self-aware, aware of the reality around you.  Second thing, feed life.  Do some work that leads you to self-care, to growing as a person, because there’s some things that are still alive.  Then he finishes it by saying. . . .Remember, then, what you received and heard.  Keep it, and repent.  He goes listen, you’ve been a part of the story.  The story started with you in brokenness, drenched in grace.  It didn’t start because you were awesome, it started because God was amazing.  Go back to that spot.  Go back and stand under that waterfall.  Go back and be a part of that love, again and again and again.  When you fail and when you nail it, return to that spot.  Consistently return to love.  Because all growth as a follower of Jesus is grounded in the grace that started you.  All of it!  Paul will write to the church at Galatia (Gal. 3:1-6) — Who has bewitched you?   Who’s bamboozled you?  Who’s just throwing wool over your eyes?  You started with spirit, you started with grace, now you’ve transitioned back to law?  No, no, no, no, no.  Return.  Return to love.

Jesus ends by saying this:  Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments {Which, quick timeout, would have been a fairly applicable allusion for a town that specializes in wool.}   and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.  The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life.   {Just a quick timeout.  During the Persian and Seleucid reigns, their empires had their bookkeeping and administrative hub in Sardis.  Sardis literally housed the census and the book that included all the citizens in it during those times.  When someone was going to be executed, they would literally go in and erase their name, they’d blot it out.  Jesus says, oh, you’ve seen this.  But for those who walk with me, those who are awake, not perfect, but those who continue to be persistent because that’s the way of discipleship, that’s the way of Jesus, God is a God of moving people forward and he says….} I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Let me close by giving you just a few implications for South.  First, we are a people in process, therefore we have grace for those who are not as far along.  This is a safe place to be imperfect, because we are all imperfect.  Be first in line.  Secondly, we don’t expect perfection, therefore we can celebrate growth and progress.  We’re not waiting for you to arrive before we acknowledge what God is up to in your life.  Because you’ll never quite arrive.  But we’re going to celebrate the growth, we’re going to celebrate the change, we’re going to celebrate the freedom, because that’s what God has wired us for.  Third, we are alive, therefore we will change.  It’s inevitable for living things.  It’s healthy for living things.

How might you apply this letter to your life this week?  Let me give you three things, but my encouragement to you after the end of each of these messages is to ask God what is one thing he’s stirring in you?  Maybe this week you say, I’m going to put my faith to my feet and I’m going to step and do the ‘how’ of being a disciple by doing one thing this week.  These are just options, but my encouragement is do something.  Maybe you sign up for the “People Welcoming People” workshop.  There’s information in the lobby.  It’s designed to help you grow.  It’s designed for us, as a community of faith, to continue to follow God as he moves us forward.  I’d love for you to be there.  I’d love to link arms with you as we learn to better welcome the thousand people who are moving to the Denver area every month.  Second, maybe you finish a project that’s been looming over your head.  Not because you necessarily want to finish the project, but because you want to remind yourself that you’re a person who’s in process.  Is there something around the house?  Is there a book that’s half done?  Is there a honey-do list?  Third, and this is the most risky, why don’t you ask someone you trust and who loves you for feedback. . . .are there things you see in me, areas that may be dying or dead or on life support, that God may awaken?  We’re going to sing a song in just a moment and I’d like to encourage you to right down what you’re planning on doing this week to practice the way of Jesus.  The song the worship team is going to sing is called “Reckless” and it’s the way God practices this pursuit.  I’m going to let anything stand in between us, I’m going to keep going.  As we sing this song, my encouragement to you would be to ask yourself the question: God, how do you want me to keep going?

I read a story this week about Harriet Tubman.  She was born into slavery.  She was an amazing woman who ran out of slavery and started to develop the Underground Railroad, where most people think she rescued anywhere from 70 to 300 people from slavery.  She was called ‘Moses’ because she led people to the Promised Land.  But it wasn’t an easy journey.   As people started to grow tired, as they started wanting to check out, she had a saying, “Dead folks tell no tales.  You go on, or you die!”  The same is true for us, friends.  God’s pulling us forward and life depends on us saying, God, I’m with you.  Let’s be a church that lives that life.  Will you stand with me as we close our time, remembering that that’s in the nature and character of our God?